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Orange County Prep Basketball : Mater Dei Sluggish in 41-39 Win Over Servite

February 15, 1987|STAURT DEDIC | Times Staff Writer

Gary McKnight, Mater Dei High School basketball coach, knew it was going to be tough to get his team motivated for its final Angelus League game against Servite Saturday night. Then LeRon Ellis, the team's catalyst at center, missed the 1 p.m. shoot-around and was benched for the first quarter.

The Monarchs scored six points in the first quarter and struggled to a sluggish 41-39 victory at Rancho Santiago College. Shooting only 37% (13 for 35), Mater Dei (10-0, 24-1) won its 52nd straight league game.

Down 39-37, Servite had possession with 25 seconds left but the Monarchs' Erik Quigley intercepted a pass intended for Friar center Nick Marusich. Ellis hit two free throws with nine seconds left to wrap it up, finishing with a game-high 14 points, though he made only 3 of 11 shots.

The Friars (6-4, 14-11), who finished second in the league, weren't their sharpest either, but Coach Larry Walker wasn't discouraged.

"I think it was a good game," he said. "I think both teams were probably looking to the playoffs.

"We made some mistakes. But we're tuning up for the playoffs. That's the way I looked at it."

McKnight wasn't as impressed. "I thought both teams were extremely flat," he said. "I didn't feel from our part that it was an enthusiastic game."

But the coach expected a letdown. On Friday he took the team to see "Hoosiers," a movie about a championship high school basketball team, hoping to raise his players' intensity.

"Maybe not starting LeRon had something to do with it," McKnight said.

But the Monarchs almost gave the game away, especially with poor free-throw shooting down the stretch. Guard Juan DeAnda missed the front of three one-plus-one situations in the final quarter.

"DeAnda played a good floor game," McKnight said. "He's usually a good free-throw shooter. I don't know what happened."

Tony Smalley led the Friars with 10 points.

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